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Revolutionizing Warehouses: Gather AI’s Autonomous Drones Lead the Way in Inventory Management

Revolutionizing Warehouses: Gather AI’s Autonomous Drones Lead the Way in Inventory Management

Luka Dragovic
Welcome to the dynamic world of Gather AI, as introduced on Website Planet during an enlightening interview with one of its pioneers.

Gather AI, a trailblazer in the inventory management sector, leverages autonomous drones to redefine the efficiency and accuracy of warehouse operations. Originating from the innovative minds at Carnegie Mellon University, the company employs advanced machine learning and computer vision technologies to provide real-time inventory insights. This conversation on Website Planet delves into how Gather AI’s drones are revolutionizing the industry by scanning over 300 inventory locations per hour, seamlessly integrating with warehouse management systems, and setting unprecedented standards in operational efficiency.

Join us as we explore Gather AI’s journey of innovation, highlighted in this engaging interview on Website Planet, and discover the future of inventory management.

Could you introduce Gather AI to our readers?

Certainly, I’d be delighted to. Gather AI is at the forefront of revolutionizing inventory management. We’re recognized as the global leader in autonomous inventory monitoring through the use of drones. Our innovative drones autonomously navigate through our clients’ warehouses, meticulously imaging each inventory spot. They leverage advanced machine learning and AI technologies to decipher barcodes, read textual information, identify cases, and spot empty spaces. This information is then seamlessly compared with the data in the warehouse management system, all facilitated by sophisticated computer vision techniques.

This direct comparison mechanism not only enhances traceability but also significantly boosts operational efficiency. Impressively, a single drone is capable of scanning over 300 inventory locations per hour. Furthermore, a single operator can efficiently manage up to three drones simultaneously. This level of efficiency and precision is what sets us apart in the industry today.

Can you share the origin story of your company, including the initial inspiration and its development over time?

The inception of our company is quite an intriguing tale. The journey began with our three co-founders, Sankalp Arora, Ph.D., Daniel Maturana, Ph.D., and Geetesh Dubey during their Ph.D. tenure at Carnegie Mellon University. Their groundbreaking project was the development of the world’s first large-scale, fully autonomous helicopter. This innovation garnered significant recognition and was nominated for numerous prestigious awards. Following its success, the technology was even adopted by the U.S. Military.

Post this venture, the founders were keen on exploring practical applications for their autonomous technology, particularly in identifying objects through computer vision. Their exploration spanned various countries and industries, eventually leading them to the warehousing sector. They identified warehousing as a field ripe for transformation, given its labor-intensive nature and the glaring need for enhanced traceability compared to other segments of the supply chain.

The breakthrough came when they succeeded in adapting their technology for more confined spaces. They refined their autonomous flight and computer vision capabilities to operate within the narrow confines of warehouse aisles, some as narrow as 5 feet 4 inches. This innovation significantly reduced the operational footprint and opened up new possibilities for inventory management in tight spaces.

Since its foundation in 2018, our company has rapidly evolved, particularly through the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic. We’ve expanded our reach across various sectors, including retail, manufacturing, third-party logistics, air cargo, and even the food and beverage industry. Our core strength lies in our high-accuracy, versatile inventory management solutions, which have established us as global leaders in drone-based inventory management.

What range of services does Gather AI provide?

Gather AI is revolutionizing the way inventory management is conducted in warehouses. Our primary solution automates the cycle counting process, elevating it with the integration of artificial intelligence. Traditionally, inventory management involves personnel manually scanning barcodes using handheld devices, often while navigating through warehouse aisles on lifts. Our approach transforms this process by employing drones to perform inventory scans at a pace that is 5 to 15 times faster than manual methods.

This innovation not only enhances efficiency but also significantly improves safety. By deploying drones for inventory tasks, the need for personnel to operate at heights or in potentially hazardous conditions is greatly reduced. In practical terms, we have successfully decreased the number of employees needed for inventory tasks from six to one, or in some cases, to a part-time role, for several of our clients.

Our service extends beyond mere inventory scanning. We offer sophisticated matching of various identifiers such as LPNs, SKUs, UPCs, lot codes, and expiration dates against the warehouse management system’s records. The results of these comparisons are accessible via a user-friendly web dashboard. This dashboard not only displays matched items but also provides visual evidence of each inventory location, enabling clients to conduct virtual walkthroughs of their warehouses.

What sets our service apart is the extensive utility of the generated data. Although the drone operation might be limited to one or two individuals within an organization, the insights and efficiency gains from the data and dashboard can benefit the entire organization, driving significant improvements in operational efficiency.

What is Gather AI’s core mission?

Gather AI is fundamentally committed to bridging the gap between the physical and digital realms through the innovative application of AI and machine learning technologies. Our core mission centers on empowering individuals to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency by harnessing the advanced tools and solutions we provide.

How does Gather AI stand out in comparison to its competitors?

Gather AI distinguishes itself as the industry leader in drone-based inventory monitoring, primarily due to our cutting-edge computer vision technology. Unlike conventional methods that might resemble a flying scan gun, our drones meticulously image each inventory location. Our team, comprising some of the world’s foremost machine learning experts, then leverages these images to perform optical character recognition, barcode reading, case identification, and even occupancy estimation based on visual data. This dual expertise in autonomous drone operation and advanced data processing sets us apart.

A key advantage of our system is its remarkable speed and efficiency. Each drone can scan over 300 locations per hour and operate continuously, allowing warehouse operations to proceed without interruption. This capability is crucial for our clients, many of whom operate around the clock. Our system is designed for simplicity and ease of use; drones can be easily paused for aisle access with a simple button press on an accompanying iPad, then resumed just as quickly.

Furthermore, a single operator can manage up to three drones, significantly multiplying their productivity. Our solution’s efficiency extends to implementation as well, with a low-touch setup process that typically spans three to six weeks without necessitating any modifications to the warehouse infrastructure.

Our clients consistently praise us not only for our technological superiority but also for the unparalleled level of service we provide, often describing us as their best supplier. This, combined with the tangible operational improvements we deliver, solidifies our position at the forefront of the industry and distinctly ahead of competitors still navigating the complexities of developing a comparable solution.

What are your predictions for the trajectory of your sector in the coming years?

Reflecting on the evolution of warehousing, it’s fascinating to consider its progression. My father, who learned warehousing logistics in the United States Marine Corps in the 1960s, shared that inventory was tracked manually with stock record cards, a method that now seems archaic. The advent of barcodes in the 1980s and 1990s marked a significant leap forward, enabling more efficient inventory tracking through barcode scanners integrated with emerging warehouse management systems (WMS) and ERP solutions.

As we entered the early 2000s, these technological advancements set the stage for the next phase in warehousing: enhanced traceability. This concept mirrors the visibility we now expect when tracking shipped packages, knowing each scan and movement through the delivery process. Our vision for the future of warehousing aligns with this level of traceability, where every item in a warehouse is digitally documented and accessible in real time. The aim is to eliminate uncertainties around inventory checks, ensuring that all stakeholders have immediate access to accurate inventory data.

The trajectory I foresee for our sector is one where digital transcription of physical inventory becomes the norm, establishing a new standard of operational transparency and efficiency in warehousing. This shift towards comprehensive traceability represents the future of inventory management, enabling businesses to operate with unparalleled precision and reliability.

Also, some big news came from GatherAI:

They announced a successful $17M funding round, spearheaded by Bain Capital Ventures. Gather AI deserves immense praise for cultivating customer satisfaction and momentum since its previous $10M funding in August 2022. The enthusiasm for this round was palpable, evidenced by it being oversubscribed and receiving robust backing from current investors, including Tribeca, Bling, Dundee, and Expa. Since their last funding, they’ve broadened their reach in existing customer facilities such as Dnata/Emirates Air Cargo, Barrett Distribution, and AAFES, and have welcomed new partners like Axon, NFI, DSV, and GEODIS. Their support has expanded to more than three times the number of facilities since the previous round. In these facilities, they’ve successfully reduced misplaced inventory errors by an average of 66%, leading to a remarkably quick average payback period for their clients of under six months. This latest injection of funds is poised to further accelerate their growth and enable the introduction of new products to the market.

Find out more at: www.gather.ai

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